Pokémon Black Version, Nintendo DS [Part 1]

Released in 2010 for the Nintendo DS, Pokémon Black and White are fifth generation Pokémon games that take place in the Unova region. They were once again developed by Game Freak and published by The Pokémon Company. I tossed a coin and chose to play Black Version for this playthrough, which is what these screenshots are from.

I took over twenty thousand grabs while playing this game and whittled them down to a thousand, then to 400 of the best shots. And because I’ve got quite a bit to say about Pokémon Black Version I decided to split this article into two parts.

At the beginning of the game you start off with your two friends (Bianca and Cheren), having been given a choice between three Pokémon in the opening scene. Whichever Pokémon you choose will change the game in certain places, which gives the game re-playability value. You then meet Professor Juniper who gives you an Xtransceiver (a communication device) and who then sends you out on an adventure to complete a Pokédex by battling and catching wild Pokémon.

The story in Pokémon Black is relatively interesting, as Pokémon games go. It deals with a group of antagonists called Team Plasma, and their mysterious leader “N“, who are trying to capture one of the legendary black and white Pokémon of Unova (Zekrom and Reshiram respectively), and defeat the current Pokémon champion, Alder. In doing so they believe that they will be able to convince Pokémon to leave their human hosts and return back to the wild.

It’s worth saying, at this point, that Pokémon Black does have some fundamental differences to previous Pokémon games. The main difference is that all the Pokémon in this game are different to those seen in previous games – at least in the first part of the game (when you start playing the post-game sections you’ll then start to see more familiar Pokémon). In fact: many of the Unova region Pokémon are weird variations that seem to push the envelope in terms of surreal creativity, but they do give this game a rather unique flavour, which is good. Another significant difference is that you can use TMs (Technical Machines) over and over in this game, rather than just once as was the previous form. This means that you can teach the same move to multiple Pokémon, which is another good thing IMO.

The basics of the game remain the same, though. You explore and battle wild Pokémon in the tall grass, and other trainers by catching their eye, and the turn-based combat is menu-based, as usual, although the DS does use touch screen tapping to facilitate that. Thankfully, though, Black and White are never bogged down by using stylus gestures in the gameplay, which is a relief because the game doesn’t need them and games that do use gestures tend to be slower and more convoluted.

The game again uses a mixture of 2D and 3D graphics, with an increased use of 3D models, lighting and weather effects over previous titles. The soundtrack is full of recognisable Pokémon musical themes and excellent new tunes. It’s safe to say that Pokémon Black looks and sounds absolutely great.

In part two I’ll go into why I think this game is particularly special.

More: Pokémon Black and White on Wikipedia

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